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Mortgage

The end of the mortgage refi boom?

Refinancing volume has fallen since reaching a three-year high in 2019's third quarter

The refinancing share of mortgage originations in December fell to 46%, the lowest since August’s 43%, according to Ellie Mae.

It’s a sign the refinancing boom is over, for now.

The dollar volume of refinancings hit a three-year high of $331 billion in 2019’s third quarter before falling to $300 billion in the final three months of the year, according to Fannie Mae.

It probably will drop to $211 billion in the current period and $161 in the second quarter, according to a Fannie Mae forecast.

Meanwhile, rates have stayed low, bouncing within an 18-basis-point band since September. Last week, the average U.S. rate for a 30-year mortgage fell to a three-month low of 3.6%, according to Freddie Mac, yet refinancing applications fell.

“The people who were going to react to low rates already have,” said Mark Goldman, a loan officer with C2 Financial in San Diego. “Most of them have gone through the system. The people getting refis now have other motivations, like cashing out for debt consolidation and home improvement.”

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.7% in 2019’s third quarter and probably will stay there for every quarter through 2021, according to a Fannie Mae forecast.

For the year, refinancings are predicted to fall to $690 billion from a six-year high of $918 billion in 2019, according to Fannie Mae. Next year, refi volume probably will decline to $538 billion, according to the forecast.

Meanwhile, mortgage originations for home purchases will increase as higher home prices mean buyers need bigger mortgages, the forecast said.

Purchase volume probably will total $1.39 trillion this year, up from $1.27 trillion in 2019. In 2021, purchase originations will probably total $1.43 trillion, the Fannie Mae forecast said.

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